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Thread: Project for the un-initiated novice and son...??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

    Default Project for the un-initiated novice and son...??

    Hello everyone,
    My son (12 years old) & I joined the AMCA at the end of 2018. We have been busy with life in general and have not been able to attend any club meeting...which has left us knowing almost no one within our club or the AMCA community. However, we hope this new year coming will be quite different.
    We are reaching out to everyone here for advice. We are wanting an antique Harley Davidson motorcycle to restore as a rider... this could even be one with a sidecar for us both to enjoy. With that being said, I must mention that we are not expert mechanics, motorcycle builders, nor are we fabricators. We are cattle farmers...who enjoying motorcycling as a way to escape the busy, mindboggling stressors of life. But this time, we'd like to step back into a seemingly simpler era by working on and with a Harley Davidson from yester-year...with an effort to spend more time together and to preserve these absolutely beautiful machines.
    My questions are these:
    Where to start?
    What years should we concentrate our first efforts?
    Is this attainable for us novices?
    Should we start with a basket case? Complete bike that needs TLC? Or????
    Where to find such a bike without making costly mistakes in our purchase?
    Any advisement you can give will excite us both!
    Hope to hear your thoughts and advice soon.
    William Covington & son (Will)
    Member #35521

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    1,293

    Default

    How much do you want to spend? How much do you think your going to spend? What era bike would you like?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    942

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    I think you have a brilliant idea for a father & son endeavor, Will. A Harley for a riding project will make memories that will last forever for you both. Start with a complete bike, late Thirties or Forties EL, FL, UL, or WL, and just keep it running. While riding the hell out of it to meets and old motorcycle events. It will be an adventure and an education for you both.
    Your story of being ranchers reminded me that the Motor Company once always built machines that could be shipped by REA Express to your local rail freight station in a wooden crate. Before the dealer network developed very much. Buyer received it and unpacked it and read a pamphlet on how to start the engine.
    A farm boy used to wrenching on a rudimentary tractor was expected to be able to keep a Harley-Davidson running with a little support. The farm boy learned to use ordinary components to make roadside repairs; for instance, the throttle and spark control cables are common mechanic's wire run through the handlebars. Leading to the old saw that anybody with a little mechanical ability can fix an Old Harley with baling wire, if necessary.
    Buy a complete Old Harley a reputable someone else built, and ride it and maintain it. It can be a father & son education.
    Just running a 1930s or '40s Harley, and ride it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rwm View Post
    How much do you want to spend? How much do you think your going to spend? What era bike would you like?
    Hello rwm,
    Not sure how to answer these without getting laughed at...
    Like most, I would like to get into a restoration to ride project as reasonable as possible. I'm not sure that I have a cap on how much I think I'm going to spend because I just dont have enough knowledge about the values to speak of it intelligently...as far as the year, I read a post somewhere that it was suggested that 1st time restorers might need to start with mid 1940's or early 1950's...possibly with a flathead 45 due to the ease(as compared to others) to rebuild and find parts for. This may or may not be true. I truly wish I knew.
    My uninformed guess might be to get into a rider or restore to rider for less than 10k...knowing I might have 10k-15k to put back into it to make a nice rider...but again, I'll need some guidance as to how much it would take to get a project...how much it would take to get it right...and what kind of value it would be worth when finished.
    Hey, thanks for your reply. I'm not sure if this helps you...but, I look forward to your advice and any info you can lend.
    Thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Sargehere,
    Many thanks for the advice. I agree that a complete bike would be the better route. Being small scale ranchers, we do tinker with equipment often as most of our equipment is older, more mechanized equipment with little to no electronics...much easier to maintenance as my computer sense seems to be lacking (according to my children).
    I look forward to this journey with my son and hope it's one we can begin together soon.
    Thanks Sarge again for the reply...I've been eager to get this type of encoragement.
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Gerry,
    Do you have a thought on how much $$ we could get a decent rider for? And, where we might find this new adventure? Do you suggest a sidecar application? Why or why not?
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    1 mile east of the Rocky Mountains.
    Posts
    877

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    WmC1911, maybe before you go out and make a purchase, as you identify projects that capture your interest, post what you find here and continue to receive member's inputs. the right machine is out there, it's just waiting to be found and if you're supposed to have it, you'll find yourself taking it home. just don't let yourself get in a rush, take your time, you'll find the project that suits what you are looking for. the one thing i wold suggest is not looking at what the bike will be worth when you you're finished, in my experience this kills the fun. try looking at it from the standpoint of the memories you've given your son that he'll hold with him when you're gone. none of us are "owner's," we are all caretakers as these machines as they pass through the hands of one generation to the next.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Well said Steve. Great advice.
    Many thanks!
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    1 mile east of the Rocky Mountains.
    Posts
    877

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    Quote Originally Posted by WmC1911 View Post
    Well said Steve. Great advice.
    Many thanks!
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521
    William, probably the first thing is to get clear what your budget will afford and then be prepared to spend more. next, learn about the different model's, price ranges based on condition, completeness, correctness, basket case to complete running bike and in between, and etc. and, it might be helpful to be transparent here with what your budget is to get member's feedback as to what machine is in that $$ range as well as a member here might know of a project to fit your budget. the more work you can do yourself the less your project will cost in the long run. Also, network, "meet" people online, get the word out in as many places as you can to so people know you're looking for something. and if you intend on going to meets, you stand a good chance of finding your project. and there are owner's groups for pretty much every model of motorcycle made, to my knowledge most these groups are facebook all i know much about is 1927 through 1929 JD's, the J's are the same except the J is a 61 cubic inch engine. i have two '27 JD's; the first '27, my initial outlay was $4k, $40k later i ended up with the attached. My 2nd '27, i started out with a lower end for $995, it's a "custom,"put together with parts, repro and original from 1913 to 1929 including Model T headlight and horn and "trick" engine parts, i.e., Truett & Osborn flywheels, Carillo rods, Venolia pistons, a set of George Hood's offset inlet assemblies, electronic ignition, converted 2 brush generator with solid state regulator and more. With my mongrel, i have everything to build a complete bike for just under $20k, but that's my story for what works for me, i'm partial to the J's because my Dad bought a '27 new. if you think you might be interested in a J bike, join JD Facebook, very active and projects come up somewhat often. And with J bikes, repro parts resources are plentiful and less so sourcing original parts, but they are out there. I don't know anything about 45 inch WL bikes, but they are probably about the least expensive and they were still in use until around 1970 i believe, so maybe the least difficult to find parts for and Johnny Sells specializes in the 45's. i don't know anything about sidecars except most likely it's another expense on top of the bike to pull the sidecar around. Whatever you choose, you can make it run down the road even though it may not be all original, but another fun part about a bike you can enjoy running down the road is you can always find original parts to replace the non-original parts if making the bike original is what you decide you want... as folks mentioned, there's pans from 1949-1965, and shovels '66-up. myself, i can't imagine owning a knucklehead, couldn't justify the cost of owning one the way i'd want it, but then there are knuckle "bitsa's"("a bit of this and a bit of that") that probably are not be too expensive.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Steve Swan; 11-11-2019 at 12:41 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Holy cow Steve,
    Those are beautiful!!!
    I've got some serious thinking to do on where I wanna start.
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

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